If you want the best choice of the freshest potatoes you really need to grow your own. We have some tips on when and how to best plant your spuds as well as suggestions for gardens limited on space and ideal fertilizers.

Getting Started

Potatoes are grown from small tubers known as “seed potatoes”. As soon as you purchase your seeds place them in a dark place (cupboard) for 1-2 weeks to allow young shoots (also known as eyes) to form.

When it’s time to plant, work in lots of compost and the recommended amount of fertilizer. Potatoes are hungry feeders so reminder to add lots of fertilizer rich in phosphorous.

Next, cut potatoes into pieces so they have 2-3 eyes each, and then plant seed potatoes 5cm deep and 30cm apart in rows about 75cm apart. Dig a deep hole and only partly fill, then mound up soil higher and higher until you can’t mound anymore. This will help produce a longer string of potatoes and increase your yield.

As sprouts emerge rake soil up around the stem of the potato to prevent greening. Harvest Time! Early crops usually mature in 3-4 months and are ready when the potatoes are about the size of an egg. Early crop potatoes should be eaten soon after harvest.

General Care

Plants need to be kept well watered for the development of good potatoes, especially when the plant is flowering. Potatoes are most susceptible to fungal attack during wet weather. Late bright can attack in spring and autumn.

If weather conditions are wet and humid then preventative spraying with a fungicide such as copper is advisable. Rotating potato crops also helps prevent fungal diseases and nematodes. Potatoes should be eaten very soon after harvest. If you wish to store other varieties, they need to be dried and then stored in the dark. When harvesting and drying do not leave out overnight.

Potatoes can bring some unwelcome root diseases into your garden. You may choose to grow potatoes in a bag or old tires as an alternative. Stacking one tire on top of another and adding soil as the potatoes grow is a great way to grow spuds. Not only can you put those old tires to use, potatoes will grow all the way up the growth in the tires. Simply start with one tire, plant and wait for the leaves to shoot up. Continue filling soil as the potatoes grow, adding fertilizer with the soil, old tires can be stacked up to create mounds for young potatoes. The rim of the tires acts to block sun as the potatoes grow, which helps stimulate them to grow up to the sun quicker.

Potatoes are rich in vitamin C and B and contain more protein and iron than other vegetables. Cooking potatoes in their skin prevents the loss of nutrients.